News from Alma Libre Bookstore - Puerto Morelos, Mexico
Year 10 Issue #2 - January 2012

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News From Puerto Morelos

Happy New Year / Feliz Año!

Welcome to 2012! Puerto Morelos celebrated the new year with food, fun and fireworks. A great night.

The town is looking forward to a busy year. The country of Mexico hopes to attract more than double the usual number of visitors with all the attention on 2012 and the Mayan prophecies. Mexico's tourism department stresses it does not believe the world will end this year, but invites everyone to come to Mexico.

Sounds good to us! If you want to be here on the beach on December 21 to get a front row seat on it all, best to book early.

I've changed the format of the newsletter to try to make it more readable. The last issue was difficult for some to read because it was too wide. Let me know if you have any problems please. Also, my spell check melted down from extreme overuse and abuse. If you see a typo, please let me know. Bad jokes are intentional and were meant to be funny, so don't report those.

Enjoy the issue!

2012 Annual "Best of Puerto Morelos" Survey (7th Annual!)

Time again for our annual Puerto Morelos survey, where we try to find out what you like best about Puerto Morelos. Your favourite places to eat, hang out or have fun.

The purpose of the survey is to find out what your fellow newsletter readers love most about Puerto Morelos. Perhaps you have been missing something, and you can use the survey results to plan your next trip. The most popular question we ask is for your favourite restaurant. We're expecting this one to be extra popular this year. For a reminder of all the restaurants in Puerto Morelos, see our complete restaurant list. (link opens in a new window)

We've made it easier to fill out our survey this year, it appears in a separate box below. Use the scroll bar on the right to see all the questions. Click finished when you are done, then you can go on with the newsletter...we'll wait for you.


If you have problems with the survey, click here to take the survey now. It will open in a new window

Please only fill out one survey per person. "Stuffing the ballot box" will not be tolerated and those responses will be deleted. Survey will close in early February.

To get you in the mood, here are some of the results of last year's survey:

Favourite things to do in Puerto Morelos: Here's a partial list in alphabetical order: be on the water, beach, bicycle, browse the bookstore, chat, chill, daytrip, dive, drink, eat, fish, hammock, hang out, nothing, people watch, read a book, relax, shop, snorkel, stroll, swim, veg and walk.

Favourite Restaurants: David Lau's took over the #1 spot followed by Cantina Habanero, Pelicanos, L'Oazis and the late Hola Asia.

Favourite Place to get a drink: Top three were Cantina Habanero, Pelicanos and Ojo de Agua.

Favourite Shop: Alma Libre Bookstore (whew!) also the Sunday Jungle Market, the Mayan Handicraft Centre and Sofia's.

Taxi Rate Increase

Taxi fares have increased in Puerto Morelos, in some cases dramatically. Some rates doubled and some more than doubled.

For example, taxi fare to the Botanical garden went increased from 50 pesos to 100. Fare to Crococun went from 50 pesos to 150. Playa Secreto is now 250, up from 130. Hotel Now Sapphire went from 90 pesos to 250.

Some of the increases are hard to understand. Fare to Ceiba del Mar more than doubled to 100 pesos from 40, yet fare to UNAM which is further down the road remains at 45. A person would be way ahead to ask to go to UNAM and just get out at Ceiba.

Fare to Rancho Sak Ol stays at 40 pesos, El Cid goes to 100 from 60.

Fares to the highway and close to the square remain at 20 pesos. Fare to the Jungle Market and Spa did not increase, it remains at 50 pesos.

Here are some of the most important new fares:

20 pesos - The highway, Amar Inn, PlayaSol, Casa de los Viajeros, Villa Shanti
100 pesos - Ceiba del Mar, El Cid, Now Jade, Botanical Garden
45 pesos - UNAM
50 pesos - Jungle Market, Villas Morelos II
250 pesos - Playa Secreto, Central Vallarta
350 pesos - Airport
400 pesos - Cancun or Playa del Carmen
700 pesos - Xel-Ha
2000 pesos - Merida/Chetumal

It is important to note that taking a taxi here is still a relative bargain. They are an extremely convenient and speedy way to get to your destination.

Click here for a look at all the new fares.

Ceiba Del Mar to Drop Name & Pants

Ceiba del Mar, the luxury spa on the outskirts of PoMo will be no more as of the end of March. On March 30 it will become Desire Pearl Resort & Spa.

There are a lot of euphoniums for what Desire offers. They call themselves a "clothing optional, couples only resort with secluded ambiance" It is also referred to as a "lifestyle resort", but basically it caters to people who wish to get naked and possibly get intimate with someone other than the person they made the reservation with. (clear enough?)

This all has the village quite concerned as Ceiba del Mar has always been a pretty good neighbour, and their guests, who are not obligated to take the all-inclusive option, were frequent visitors and patrons to Puerto Morelos. Guests chose to do some of their shopping and dining in town, supporting our small businesses. We're not sure the clothing optional guests with their mandatory all-inclusive will be as likely to even stop in.

There is also concern about the beach in front of the resort becoming clothing optional, as it is a very well travelled route between PoMo and the big resorts and vacation homes north of us.

Desire already has a resort to the north at Petempich, but it is much more isolated from the town.

The beaches of Mexico belong to the people of Mexico, and as I understand it, public nudity is against the law, so I am not sure how this is allowed.

Most of us really don't care what people do in the privacy of their own room or even on top of their own refrigerators, but we do not want anyone feeling uncomfortable walking our magnificent beach or being discouraged from finding our town.

Desire Pearl opens on March 30, 2012. This is their website.

New Products

After a whole lot of researching, we have started carrying some special gourmet and food items in the store. You'll find Mexican grown coffee, hot chocolate, hard-to find clear vanilla, Mayan honey, and a selection of locally made hot sauces.

We are also now carrying the popular Chimay hot sauces. Folks north of the border clamour for this stuff. Chimay makes the hottest habanero known to man, and they also make flavourful sauces for more sensitive palates. Chimay Salsa Habanera comes in four flavours, colors and levels of spiciness to suit your palate: Negra la menos picante (black, the least spicy), verde la poco picante (green, a little spicy), roja la muy picante (red, very spicy), amarilla la extra picante (yellow, extra spicy).

Our most popular sauce is a mini four-pack in a woven basket for just 100 pesos. Great gift for the foodie in your life, or a great souvenir of your Mexican vacation.

Bookstore Hours - We're open 7 days a week and different hours!

We're not quite open 24 hours, but we are 7 days a week with the new hours. 11:00am to 2:30pm and 3:30pm to 8:00pm every day. Even Sunday!

Please note that we are often closed daily between 2:30 & 3:30, though you may find us in.

We are hoping that by closing for less hours in the afternoon we won't miss as many day trippers into PoMo from Cancun and Playa. Come see us!

Special Book Orders
We have finally found a supplier who can do the impossible. That is get books to us reliably in Puerto Morelos. We can now order most any title and receive it at the bookstore in about a week at a surprisingly low cost.

We are ordering new books for the store about once a month and we can bring in books for you too! Depending on the number of books you order, shipping and duty will be between $3 and $5 US per book. There is no sales tax or any other fees. This is much quicker and cheaper than any other source we have found, including Amazon.

Our next order will be soon. To order, just contact us to make sure we are able to get the book you want.

Jungle Market / Jungle Spa

The Jungle Market has returned, and the ladies in the jungle have already cooked up some surprises. They even had a market on Christmas Day with a posada featuring Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus and a live donkey!

Don't miss this unique local event, and come hungry, as the authentic Mayan & Mexican food is a highlight of any visit. The market opens at 10 am and the popular dance show is at 11:00 am

The Jungle Spa has been so popular, they have expanded the days that it is open and are requesting that people make appointments either by telephone or email. This will ensure you don't waste any time waiting for your treatment.

To make an appointment, contact Sandra at (998) 208 9148 or Cell 044 998 180-5424 or by email through her website. Appointments are available Tuesday-Saturday and limited appointments may be available on Sunday. The spa is closed on Monday.

Many treatments are available, from manicures and pedicures to a luxurious aloe vera and banana leaf wrap and massage! (or a chocolate massage...does it get any better??) For men, there is the "Mayan Macho" massage. You've never had a massage like this! They even have special massages for young adults.

Spa prices are much lower than you will find at your resort and proceeds go directly to the Mayan families that work at the spa and Jungle Market.

It's easy to get out to the jungle by car, taxi or collectivo. It's on Calle Dos (kie-yay dose) in the Zona Urbana, which is right behind the Colonia. Here's a map you can print out. Taxi to the jungle from the town square is still 50 pesos. Tell driver you want to go to: Jungle Spa - Sandra (important to mention her name) Zona Urbana.

Remember, when you pamper yourself at the Jungle Spa or buy a unique gift at the Mayan Market, you are directly supporting Mayan families! This is a very worthwhile venture and we hope you will support it.

Money Matters

New anti-money laundering laws here in Mexico require exchange houses to record your passport number to exchange US cash for pesos. You will need a copy of your passport to exchange cash at any exchange place in Mexico.

Just a reminder to visitors that there is no place to cash traveler's cheques in Puerto Morelos. The easiest way to get pesos is at the Santander ATM in front of the police station or the HSBC ATM beside the supermarket on the square. If they are out of money, there is another machine in the 7-11 by the gas station. There are also three ATMs in town that are not affiliated with banks. Two are at the mall across the square from the bookstore and another is at OXXO. Since these are not affiliated with a bank, the fees are much higher than the Santander and HSBC machines.

Home and Condo Rentals

January and February are high season here, though we still have some rentals available. Most of our places book up to a year in advance for February especially, but there are some holes in the schedule.

Many ex-pats have built their dream homes here in PM and are willing to rent it to you! Renting a place makes you feel more like a local and offers the convenience of cooking for yourself and much more privacy.

Regular Beach Readers know that we feature some of these properties on our website. There are a gazillion property rental sites out there, but our site is unique because these are properties we know, owned and run by people we know and trust. We like to think we take the guesswork and risk out of renting.

We're always adding new properties to the site and new photos too!

Check out our new, easier to navigate rentals page here.

One bedroom or two? Your choice!

Sale! One Night Free Jan 19-27

This large suite can be rented as a one bedroom/one bath with a fold out couch, or as a two bedroom two bath. Each bedroom has its own outside door to allow entry or exit without disturbing others.
It has a full kitchen with pots and pans, dishes and cutlery, plus appliances like coffee maker, toaster and juicer. Drinking water is included as well as cable TV and high-speed wireless internet. The suite features a huge terrace with table and chairs and comfy hammocks. All this from $695 a week in season, $450 starting in May!
Click here for more information and pictures!

Bright, Breezy One Bedroom

A big one bedroom, two bath with a loft. The loft has a fold out couch and curtains for privacy. The couch in the living room also folds out into a bed.
Off the bedroom and the living room is a HUGE balcony with table and chairs for four and a comfy hammock.
Of course there is a full kitchen with pots and pans, dishes and cutlery, plus appliances like coffee maker, toaster and juicer. Drinking water is included as well as cable TV and wireless internet. $695 a week in season, $499 starting in May!

Click here for more information and pictures!

Your place, steps from the best beach in town!

Economical one bedroom one bath on two levels from $399 a week

Comes with a full kitchen, full bath, enormous bedroom and balcony


Click here to download a printable info sheet on the above three apartments

*By the way, it is not too early to start thinking about 2013. I am handling emails every day from people who waited too long to book Christmas and February!*

Check out our new, easier to navigate rentals page here.

Owners! Contact us to get your FREE listing on our website.

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News Briefs

Restaurant News: Good news and bad news to report this month. Bad news, Peskayito is closed and no longer making those shrimp tacos I loved. Good news is that the very successful "Al Chimmichurri" is taking over the space, installing a big oven. They will use that oven to make pizzas and breads for delivery. They should be up and running by mid-February. By the way, if you want to go to Chimmichurri, get there early...they are very busy this season. Word has got out how good they are!

Restaurant Aldea del Mar has changed their name to Pangea.

El Pirata restaurant, an icon in PoMo is for sale.

We have once again updated our PoMo restaurant guide, check it out on our website.

The Casa de la Cultura will be holding their 7th annual Festival of Music on January 26, 27, 28 and February 2, 3 & 4. We're a proud sponsor of this event and they are looking for more sponsors. Please contact them through their website for details. This is a well organized and well received event for our town. The Casa de la Cultura offers many other learning opportunities. Here is their complete schedule.

World Wide What: Looks like a new internet cafe is opening up across from Cantina Habanero.

Wet Set Dive Shop has new owners. Former owners Paul and Jennifer Hensley sent out an email on January 13 saying they had sold the shop and were "pursuing other desires." Here is a link to their announcement.

Small Town: Sometimes our duties at the bookstore go beyond books. The other day Joanne was working when a customer came in with a toothache. Joanne just happened to be on Facebook at the same time as Dr. Carlos, our excellent town dentist. She sent him an instant message and Carlos was able to take the person right away. They bought a book too. This is when you love living in a small town!

The road into town from the highway is a bit of a mess right now, but it is for a good cause. They are adding a separate bike lane to the road so that cycling will not be the bone-jarring death-defying adventure it is now. This will be a great boon to those who must commute every day to town and will make it much easier to visit the Colonia.

Workmen waited until the height of tourist season to begin work on two new beach accesses at the north end of town. The accesses will look like a wooden dock leading to the beach.

Ask A Realtor: Mayan Riviera Properties will again be offering their weekly workshop outlining how to buy property in our area. Great chance to learn and ask your questions about living here full or part time. Workshops run each Tuesday at 5:00.

Villas Morelos II: We stopped by the showroom for the "Happy Houses" as we call them (because of their smiling house-shaped logo) and checked out their plans. Villas Morelos II is in operation and homes sell for as low as 450,000 pesos for a two bedroom, one bath home. That's about $33,000 US. They also showed us their enormous two-story model home with four bedrooms and four baths for under one million pesos, about $73,000 US. Their next project is called Regatta. It is on the other side of the highway, beside and behind Crococun. Regatta will be a little higher end with a yoga centre and a jogging track. They are selling lots for 20,000 US. The final phase will be Villas La Playa which is located between Morelos I and II. Part of its plans call for a shopping mall with a grocery store and movie theatres.

Swim Fans: The annual swimming tournament in Puerto Morelos will be held February 18. They hit the water at 8:00 am.

Cambi-Oh!: Once again we are short of change in the bookstore. We simply can't get enough 5 & 10 pesos coins and 20 peso bills. We do not need 1 or 2 peso coins. We really did try to get some small change from our bank but the first time we went, they had run out of coins themselves. (Really?) The second time we went, he would not give me coins because it was after 12:00 noon. (Whaaa?) I try to explain to people how bad the banks are here, but I think those stories illustrate my point better than I could ever explain. If your pockets are laden with change, bring 'em by the bookstore and we will exchange your 5s/10s and 20's for crisp bills. Gracias!

Sailing to Cancun: The recent road construction near Bonfil is over! Crews made quick work of an underpass that eliminates one traffic light on the way to Cancun. The colour scheme reminds me of a 1970's swimming pool, but the traffic flows freely...until you hit the next traffic light...and of course you have already passed the unnecessary police roadblock near the hotel zone...and you have dodged all the new potholes on the road into Cancun. Sigh.

Marriage for all: For a brief period of time it looked like same-sex marriage would be recognized in Quintana Roo. Some sharp-eyed legal experts noticed that the civil code was gender-neutral and several couples applied for marriage licenses. Now the Secretary of State for Quintana Roo has ordered a review of the law, so everything is on hold. Same sex marriage is legal in Mexico City.

Free WiFi: It's getting even easier to stay connected in Puerto Morelos. Many of the restaurants and our bookstore will give you free access with a purchase, and Cablemas is now offering a free signal. Look for it around the town square. Planet Cafe beside OXXO has computers with high-speed connections.

Bunch O' Booths: A lot of booths have sprung up around the square. Most of these booths are selling snorkel and fishing trips. Some are selling tours. Some are selling time-share or vacation clubs. Make sure you know the difference when you are talking to the person at these booths. If the price of a tour or trip seems too good to be true, there may be strings attached. Check out our Puerto Morelos Services page for good local businesses that will show you the sights right!

As we reported before, The Miami Herald Cancun Edition is no more. Look for a copy of the USA Today Cancun Edition at your hotel or convenience store. It's being put together by the same local staff. Check out the weekend edition for "Footprints" a special section devoted to the best in our area.

What did I miss? Let me know!

This Newsletter is being sent to you on a new server. It charges us for each individual email that it sends out, so if you are receiving this email more than once, please unsubscribe the extra addresses. Because it charges us for each email, it is very careful to ensure all the addresses are valid. If it has trouble getting the email to you, it will delete your name and never send you another email. If you were receiving our email, but now you are not, try signing up again using the form on our web page. This "double-opt-in" system is much more accurate and should ensure you continue to receive this newsletter. You can try adding our email address to your contact list too, so that your spam blocker doesn't delete us. Gracias!

Don't hate us, we've added Google Ads to the newsletter in an attempt to cover some of its costs. We have no control over the ads that pop up, Google decides that, and we are in no position to tell them what to do! Please let us know though if anything odd shows up. Please note, these ads don't begin to cover our costs for this newsletter. If you like this newsletter, please support it by buying books at Alma Libre. Gracias!

Current Exchange Rates (At the exchange in Puerto Morelos)
USA Dollar 13.00
CDN Dollar 12.20

The real rate is closer to 14.00. You will get a better rate from the ATM.

This Just In! Books & Products at Alma Libre

We love keeping you up to date with our town, but it's the books that keep us going. We're finding all sorts of new stuff this year, these are a few of our favourites....

Just arrived! Unique Expressions of Mexico, a beautiful booked commissioned by Xcaret to capture the colours, traditions and celebrations of Mexico. Great book at a great price, just 200 pesos.

Plants In The Mayan Culture, this gorgeous book features traditional remedies, food and art of our area. The book is locally produced, well researched and packed with photographs. We've been looking for a book like this for years, and we're delighted to have it now. Don't miss it, you will not find it any place else!

New for 2012 - The Guia Roji Road Atlas. We drive to and from Mexico from Calgary every year, and we wouldn't even attempt it without our Guia Roji. This atlas has 49 full colour, detailed maps of the country plus 51 maps of the major cities of Mexico. The atlas is good quality and opens flat for easy navigating.

Don't leave home without it!

The Rough Guide to Cancun & the Yucatan - Freshly updated and adorned with glossy photos, this is a beautiful guidebook. Practical too with useful info on anywhere you want to go in our area. It covers the mainstream and the out of the way places you might otherwise miss.

The author also maintains a blog to keep the edition up to date. Nice!

Amphibians and Reptiles - We share our beautiful peninsula with many creatures. We've always had good books on the mammals, birds and fish of our area and now we have a good one on the Amphibians and Reptiles.

This one volume is in both English and Spanish and features photos and descriptions of everything that crawls, slithers and hops in our town.

Locally published - Only available at Alma Libre Bookstore

Chichen Itza - We have lots of books about the Maya and the ruins in our area. This is one of our favourites because it has high-quality overlays that show what the Mayan temples looked like.

Check out this book and many others published by a company in Merida. Not available off our peninsula!

SPECIAL OFFER for Alma Libre Bookstore Customers

Cenotes of the Riviera Maya is the best book ever written about the cenotes in our area. Beautifully photographed, it could easily be called a coffee table book, but it is also has all the practical information you need to explore the cenotes whether you are swimming or diving. Many have drooled over this book, but the hefty (500 peso) price tag kept some people away. Now author Steve Gerrard has authorized us to lower the price. At 300 pesos, this book is an incredible bargain and it has been flying off our shelves.


If you drive in our area, you need a map! We have excellent and detailed maps of the Yucatan, the country of Mexico, Cancun city, Merida as well as Belize, Guatemala, Cuba and Central America. We also have souvenir-quality maps you can hang on the wall.

We also carry the famous "Map Chick" Riviera Maya maps, which answer the question, "where does that road off the main highway go?"


Postcards! We've added a lot of new postcards to our collection, including more underwater shots by "Dive Diva." We have the largest selection of Puerto Morelos postcards, and they are all exclusive to Alma Libre. We know because we make 'em! We also have blank greeting cards to cover any occasion you may wish to celebrate while you are in paradise.

Gift Certificates! A nice gift idea for someone who lives here is an Alma Libre Gift certificate. Available in any amount and can be used for new or used merchandise. We can accept payments from up north via Paypal.

Facebook & Twitter

Are you on Facebook? If so, look for our Facebook groups. Friends of Puerto Morelos &Alma Libre Bookstore. You can also buck up your friends list by making Alma Libre Bookstore your friend.

You can also like Alma Libre Bookstore.

The groups have grown very quickly! Friends of Puerto Morelos just passed 860 members! If you are on Facebook, please join our groups. We'll use them to keep you up to date with town news between newsletters. Check out the group for new photos of Puerto Morelos, taken by fellow visitors!

And if that is not enough for can also follow us on Twitter. This is our twitter home page. You can follow us throughout the day.

Photos of the Month

Quick! What's wrong with this picture? Not a dang thing, except that you are not in it. What are you waiting for? Get thee to PoMo!

Buena Vista - Check out this person perched precariously on the pinnacle of this palapa!

Cool Castle - Spotted this nice "starter castle" located conveniently on the beach near Ceiba del Mar. Comes with four turrets and a really big green flag. Good for people who don't mind a little sand in the casa. Motivated sellers...that next wave could be the big one!

Waiting Room - A very unusual sighting can be made on the road between Ceiba del Mar and Dreams resort. These figures will eventually be sunk off the coast near Cancun to become an artificial reef and tourist attraction. Now they are waiting behind a fence near the entrance to the university research station. Learn more about the underwater museum at the artist's website.


In Memory

Gary McDonell - Gary and Carol lived in Puerto Morelos for many years before moving to Playa del Carmen. Gary was well-known and popular figure in Puerto Morelos, and very successful in timeshare sales on the Riviera Maya. He passed away suddenly on January 6, 2012. Memorial services were held in Playa and Winnipeg.

Gary was 64.

Google Ads:


Photo of Alma Libre Bookstore in Puerto MorelosJust a reminder that we are open 7 days a week for the season. Our hours are 11:00am to 2:30pm & 3:30pm to 8:00pm EVERY DAY of the week. (Including Sunday) We are closed between 2:30pm and 3:30 for siesta, though sometimes you may find us open.

Our hours are always posted on the front page of our website at

We take trades every day, so our selection is constantly changing. If you are planning a trip down, why not bring some recent bestsellers to trade and check out our store, or plan to buy all your reading material at Alma Libre. We got you covered!

We look forward to seeing you in Puerto Morelos!

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Beach Reads is the official newsletter of Alma Libre Bookstore in Puerto Morelos Mexico. It is mailed directly to your mailbox if you request it. Beach Reads is published on a sporadic, seemingly random basis...but it is supposed to be approximately monthly during the season at Puerto Morelos. The season is November until after Easter. We do our best to publish it regularly...but we are easily distracted...

Our website is located at Our store hours are always on the home page.

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This is Year #10, Issue #2. January 2012.

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